I have to confess that my heart sinks a bit as I find myself listed among episcopal bloggers heading for Lambeth – look at this for example. There is clearly an opportunity to give people in my own diocese and elsewhere a flavour of how it is. But I haven’t worked out in my mind what the Chatham House or other rules for this ought to be.
At this moment, I’m busy trying to get to the point at which I can walk away and go to Lambeth. I feel curiously uninvolved in it all – and rather uninformed and unprepared. The good stuff? I am very much looking forward to being part of such a big international event. I haven’t experienced much of that in my life – just to be in that great multi-cultural mix will be very enriching and enlivening.
I don’t really expect this to be the sort of ‘make or break’ event that people expect. Two reasons for that.
First that the people who are passionate at either end of the sexuality divisions tend to present their arguments in a way which ensures that no resolution is likely. There is no space for winners and losers. I saw enough of that in my former life in Northern Ireland. It took me a long time to realise that it was sometimes the healthiest thing to acknowledge it and live through it. But however much people deny it, there is always an inexorable movement towards dealing with the issue – everything leads back to the same place but it may take a while.
Second – there is movement taking place all the time. But it happens ‘off centre’. Just to take one example, I have been reading Kenneth Stevenson’s ‘A Fallible Church’. Look at Bishop James Jones’ article about the impact which the triangular relationship between Liverpool, Virginia and Akure [in Nigeria] has had on him. It’s through those kinds of long-term relationships that we grow towards one another.
I see from today’s paper that whereas until recently there were (apparently) 27,000 Christian denominations in the world, now there are — since Gfcon — in effect 27,001. So lets get this into perspective: whilst in tree-perspective this Gafcon breakaway is very very very serious, in wood-perspective is may not be hardly at all! And, in any case, the N.T is full of warnings about heresy and threats to the purity of the faith, but the Zietgeist absolutely forbids pointing this out (along with anything like reference to dialectical truth) on pain of being ostracised. The same really as when you try to point out that the story of how Jesus cures the first Pope’s mother-in-law is — where there is a level social playing-field — as important as the ‘suffer little children’ statement, which, thanks to textual politics, we tend to hear about a smigin more (!). Can we not stop taking ourselves so seriously? The only thing we hear about Jesus for 30 years is how he runs away from his mother — a fine Jewish mother joke (as well as a refreshed direction to the more group-focus of the new religion).
And, of course, the trouble with inclusiveness is that it also excludes.
Well said David. Thanks so much for your comment on my blog. I think us ex Norn Iron boys have something to say into all this mess. Lets try to arrange to meet sometime! God bless. Mark
And lo, it did come to pass that after the Enlightenment and Modernism there did appear Postmodernism, with its many competing discourses, but some more assertive than others. And verily the assertive discourses — in their powerful and articulate tribe named ‘Inclusive Church’ — did send forth a proclamation that all the world might know their ideas on their scroll ‘Website’. But their website did proclaim only the ideas of two marginalised peoples (the gays and the women) — well, then also the ethnic minorities after I complained, to be truthful. But the elderly, the single, the non-parent and the disabled had no-one to inclusively step down with them into the pool when the angel troubled the waters at the 10.30 on Sunday morning….
Well – I think there have to be rules. Or at the very least some netiquette. Otherwise the kind of ground-covering which Doug hopes for might be compromised.
I think I am in general in the ‘first lot’ which Noel identifies. But then struggling with all the consequential issues such as, ‘Any limits to inclusiveness?’ And the broader issue of how you avoid making God in your own image ..
My vicar’s gone to Gafcon with his wife. Detachment is what is required, which here, I suspect, supports the perspective of ‘la longue duree’ (AKA ‘the French have a word for it’). If you were doing your PhD on, say (at random), Pietism in the Piemont in the 1780s and found something similar, what would you think? I suspect that in super-strategic terms you’d think that you have one lot whose approach was eventually inevitable since the Enlightenment; and another…’time-travelling’ from the first century. I tend to be in the last group, partly on the principle that I suspect Christianity is a religion where once you say ‘the gods don’t really live on Mount Olympus’ — it’s gone eventually. Further, the more conservative lot seem in fact to be keeping to the ‘collectivist’ ‘cultural physics’ of the religion which is very subtly plumbed into the N.T. — and includes ‘cabinet collective responsibilty’ for what ‘we’ve generally kept to — give or take’ over the years within the religion. Academic approaches such as this — perhaps despite their frequent dryness, and the rocks you can throw at them — do seem to have explanatory power?
I completely agree with your comments that not much movement will get done, but I’m hoping some ground will be covered.
It would be really good to read your responses to what happens – should there really be rules?
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